About Me

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Armchair theorist, poet, and occasional IT manager, Sascha B. is equipped with a Master's Degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas, and is not afraid to use it. His work has been published by the University Press of America, Edwin Mellen Press, University of Texas Press, and a variety of small journals nationwide. He is also the proprietor and baker for 3141 Pie, of which you should eat many.

The Deal

I stopped blogging in 2013, when life overtook me. My father became ill and died shortly thereafter, and my mother was left with increasing dementia. I became the primary caregiver, and now orchestrate my mother's care and our family estate.

Now, I am coming up for air again.

Looking for the next book to read. All suggestions welcome.

My reading list is over here.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Panacea

So president Bush believes---according to his statment today in Europe---that the long term solution in the Middle East viz. the current war is "to support democracy." Funny: the nations currently involved in hostilities (I love the innocuous nature of that word, covering up so much ugly hate,and blood, and death) are exactly those in the region who have embraced democracy: Israel, Lebanon, and Palestine. But democracy is not always strength. It is the weakness of the current Lebanese government which allows for the continued arming of a private militia in the south, supported by Iran. It is the weakness of the Palestinian government which has disabled it to the point of paralysis in facing down the looming unilateral activities of Israel. And it is the weakness of Israel that it cannot find a reasonable solution to the internal tension between radicals, hawks, and peaceniks.

Bush has abdicated responsibility. Without action from outside, this could precipitate a war that will undo everything that has been held in such fragile balance since 1975; not just in Lebanon and Israel, but in Syria, and Iraq, and Iran, and Palestine.

No one wins here.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Just Some Meandering Thoughts

The first time I was ever in the Middle East was in 1981, and I had the opportunity to visit the Israel-Lebanon border just prior to a rise in tensions in July of that year. If you hadn't told me, though, I would have thought that tensions were running pretty damn high already. I remember standing on a hillside by a military checkpoint, listening to the mortar fire and wondering why on earth we had been allowed to come so close to it. It turns out that we probably shouldn't have been; we were quickly shuttled away. It was only a few weeks later that Israel and the PLO began shelling each other in earnest across the Southern Lebanese border.

This was 25 years ago now; and after more than a decade of war in that time, and innumerable horrors, and many shifts in the power balance in the Arab world, it appears that for Israel, and the Palestinians of Hamas, and the militants of Hizbullah, there is still unfinished business. God knows what this will turn out to be in the end.

On a certain level this is a power play between Israel and Hamas; on other more complex levels though, this is about rising battles for control between Hamas (more the Syrian based group than the Gaza based government cabinet), and Hizbullah in Lebanon and their Iranian supporters --- though both are bankrolled by Syria. On another level, this is Israel acting out its endgame of unilateral action, and moving beyond the exhaustion of parley without partners who will keep both hands above the table.

The Lebanese government is fragile; there has been little or no resolution to the Hariri crisis, and Hizbullah has the ability to throw the country back into chaos. Few Lebanese would be winners in that scenario, though right now their rhetoric may belie that truth.

I hear that Kofi Annan has sent in a few talking heads from the UN. I hope that they have better luck than they have in the past. If the Israeli blockade of Lebanon lasts longer than a week, I suspect that this war will become part and parcel of the landscape of the Middle East for at least the remainder of the year.

Let's hope someone over there proves me wrong.
Spidey Meets Doogie

This is just really cool: BBC: Silk 'could help repair nerves'
Bad To Worse

So Hizbullah enters the fray, and we move from skirmish to war. Lebanon, still as it is in the wake of the Hariri assassination and its fragile resolutions, is in no condition to endure another incursion by Israel. And Hizbullah has an edge: Syria and Iran are on the defensive against the US right now, lending fuel to the fire. I expect our response will be the usual one of this administration: nothing. Nothing at all.

Reuters: Israeli reprisals hit Lebanon.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I've Been On Holiday

And now I am back. New York was great, and coming back home to reality is not yet completely a settled thing...and the last few days, what with trains exploding, tunnels falling, houses collapsing, wars enraging, and so on, I don't even know where to begin.

Expect updates by tomorrow though. Once the jetlag wears off and I sort through the mail, I'll have some time to rant.